Alumnus Justin Huang Wins $75,000 on Shark Tank for Cup-a-Bug

Justin Huang giving his pitch for Cup-a-Bug on Shark Tank

June 27, 2024 - UCI mechanical engineering alumnus Justin Huang ’10, B.S. won $75,000 on Shark Tank from Mark Cuban for Cup-a-Bug. His invention enables people to easily catch and release insects without harming them.  “I’ve always been scared of bugs, especially spiders,” he said, “and I always felt bad about killing them.” So he did what Anteater engineers do –  he created a solution.

Huang says his device is like using a cup and paper, but from a distance – a three-foot pole to be exact. At the end of the pole is a fully articulated head that can pivot in any direction to make it easy to catch bugs with a polycarbonate box. It even works in hard-to-reach places like corners or high ceilings. The lid slides open and closes to catch the critters, and then the door locks in place.  Cup-a-Bug provides an eco-friendly humane solution to an everyday problem.

The device has over 30 custom-designed parts made in SolidWorks, the 3D software Huang learned as an engineering student. “It’s all the stuff I learned in UCI like SolidWorks, finite element analysis, mechanics of behavior,” he said.

He perfected the design during the pandemic when he started gardening and countless flies, gnats and spiders entered his home. In March 2022, he launched Cup-a-Bug on Kickstarter and in February 2024, he received additional funding from Mark Cuban after his pitch on Shark Tank. 

“Everyone can love dogs and cats, but the one animal that doesn’t get a lot of love are insects. They look creepy and people just want to squash them,” Huang said. “I felt bad that they were getting judged by their face value, so I wanted to do something about it.”

- Natalie Tso

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